No matter how well you know Chicago, you most likely don’t know about these hidden secrets. Dig in.
1. There’s an alleyway paved entirely with wooden blocks between the State Parkway and Astor Street, behind the Archbishop’s residence. It’s a relic of when the city made sidewalks out of the material in 1850’s and led to the streets literally burning in the Great Chicago Fire.
2. The City of Chicago gives out actual awards to people who shovel their sidewalks the best in the snowy months. They’re called “Winter Wonders,” and are signed by the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council.
3. Grab your binoculars—there’s a historic shipwreck in the waters of Lake Michigan that is visible from the coast, off 49th Street Beach.
4. There is an adorable kissing rock devoted to the site where President and Michelle Obama had their first date at 53rd and South Dorchester, which used to be a Baskin Robbins.
5. You can get some of the best pastries in the city out of a window down an alleyway in Lincoln Park. Just head west down Armitage from Halsted and follow the baking aromas to the right.
6. There is an abandoned street that runs under some of the best-known buildings in River North—Carroll Avenue. Formerly the entrance to the Kenzie Bridge, one of the most-trafficked freight lines of the 20th century, the path is now only haphazardly reached on foot.
7. Due to a train accident that killed a ton of circus performers in 1918, there are several gravestones of clowns like “Baldy” and “Smiley” and even elephants in Woodlawn Cemetery.
8. There is a sculpture dedicated to dog poop called “Shit Fountain” at 1001 North Wolcott Avenue. Since it sits on private property, the city has left it alone.
9. When winter sucks, there’s a path called the Pedway under the Loop that will let you avoid going aboveground. It’s currently larger than 40 city blocks and growing larger all the time. (It’s such a mystery that even Tribune reporters get tripped up by it.)
[Featured Image: Roman Boed via Flickr]